A Promising Green Building Material
What is Bamboo?
 Bamboo is a grass, not a
 Extensive root system
constantly growing
Replenishes itself
 Grows naturally in
biologically diverse
forests throughout
southeast Asia, South
and Central America,
and the Caribbean
Why Use Bamboo?
 Bamboo stands release 35% more oxygen than
equivalent stands of trees.
 Some bamboo even sequester up to 12 tons of carbon
dioxide from the air per hectare.
 Bamboo can also lower light intensity and protects
against ultraviolet rays.
 It is very easy, affordable, and profitable for low
income communities to grow and use bamboo.
More Good Reasons
 Bamboo is one of the strongest building materials,
tensile strength is 28,000 pounds per square inch
versus 23,000 pounds per square inch for steel.
 In Costa Rica, 1000 houses of bamboo are built
annually with material coming only from a 60 hectare
bamboo plantation. If an equivalent project used
timber, it would require 500 hectares of threatened
tropical rainforests.
 10-30% annual increase in biomass versus 2 to 5% for
A High Yield Renewable
 "Ply boo" is now being used for wall paneling and floor
tiles; bamboo pulp for paper-making; briquettes for
fuel, raw material for housing construction; and rebar
for reinforced concrete beams.
 Diverse species makes bamboo adaptable to many
 It can be harvested in 3-5 years versus 10-20 years
for most softwoods.
 Bamboo tolerates extremes of precipitation, from 30250 inches of annual rainfall.
Did I mention it’s strong?
 In Limon, Costa Rica, only bamboo houses stood after
a violent earthquake in 1992. Because it is flexible and
lightweight bamboo enables structures to "dance" in
 Bamboo is useful for different things at different ages:
<30 days it is good for eating
6-9 months for baskets
2-3 years for bamboo boards or laminations
3-6 years for construction
>6 years bamboo gradually loses strength up to 12 years old
 It is important to treat bamboo against rot and insects. One
method is to cure the bamboo by standing cut culms on a
stone for a month amongst the living culms. The leaves are left
on as they continue to remove starch from culm.
 The fabrication of bamboo requires very little energy, especially
in comparison to other frequently used building materials.
Concrete 240 MJ/M3 per N/MM2
1500 ‘’
80 ‘’
30 ‘’
Problems Facing the Bamboo
 In many places bamboo is disappearing. In Brazil there
were 85,000 sq km of bamboo in 1976, while in 1983
there were only 32,000 sq km. It is feared that within
a decade all bamboo in Brazil will be gone. Guadua is
among the threatened species because it can only
grows at tropical latitudes.
 The perception that it is a poor persons housing
material. In India, the highest castes use stone to
build, the middle castes use wood, and only the lowest
castes use bamboo.
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